Slater happy to miss first Pro Bowl

INDIANAPOLIS -- New England Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater qualified for his first Pro Bowl this season. But according to Slater, neither he nor his teammates had their minds set on playing in Hawaii.

"The first thing coach [Bill] Belichick told me when I made it was 'Well, you're not playing in it,'" Slater said in New England's first Super Bowl media conference Sunday. "So it's something that I was happy to receive the honor, but I was hoping I wasn't playing in the game. Thankfully, I'm not."

The Patriots arrived in Indianapolis to begin preparations for the Super Bowl on Sunday, the same day as the NFL's Pro Bowl.

New England tied for the AFC lead with eight Pro Bowlers. But the team was taken off the roster last week when the Patriots beat the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game. That kept players like Slater, quarterback Tom Brady, guard Logan Mankins and receiver Wes Welker out of the game -- and they like the alternative of facing the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.